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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, May 20, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesArea Students Abuzz Over Upcoming District Spelling Bee

Area Students Abuzz Over Upcoming District Spelling Bee

Good Hope School sixth-grader Gershom Thompson draws his number for the St. Croix District Spelling Bee. Holding the envelope is contest coordinator Charlene Matthew.Raheem Knight’s favorite word is “schottische,” a spirited German folk dance.

Why, the seventh-grader at Elena Christian Junior High School was asked, did he particularly like that word? Was it because he likes the dance? Or the sound of the word? Or what?

“I like that it has two SCHs in it,” he said. “And the double-T in the middle.”

It takes a special kind of child to excel at spelling, and Knight was one of almost two-dozen kids from across St. Croix who gathered Wednesday afternoon with their parents and spelling coaches to prepare for next week’s St. Croix District Spelling Bee, set to begin next Friday morning at John H. Woodson Junior High School.

Students from every school on the island will be on hand, "duking" it out for the title of best speller on the island. The top finishers will travel to St. Thomas next month for the territorial spelling bee, and the champion of that has the chance to compete in the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee this spring in Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday the students sat at the district Curriculum Center as bee coordinator Charlene Matthew explained to them how the contest would be organized, what the rules are, and what the students can expect the moment they arrive at Woodson.

After each student introduced him or herself to the audience—something they’ll have to do next Friday at the bee—Matthew explained everything from where to go when they arrive in the morning, to how many judges and pronouncers there will be, to how to use a “grievance form.”

The grievance form is for use when a student is eliminated for misspelling a word. The form gives the student, their coach or teacher the chance to object in the event they think the word was mispronounced or for some similar reason out of the student’s control.

When the student is given the word, he or she can ask the judge for a definition, for its origin, its part of speech, or whether the word is a homonym – all of which can provide valuable clues to a speller who’s not absolutely certain of the assigned word.

After Matthew ran through the procedures and the students watched a video that went over the rules again, it was time for the drawing. Each student in turn was called to the front, where they thrust their hands into a large manila envelope. The numbered piece of paper each withdrew provided their order at next week’s spelling bee.

Then the students were treated to refreshments, but most of them were ready to get back to studying.

Keoni Douglas, an 11-year-old from Lew Muckle Elementary School, said she was nervous about the upcoming spelling bee. She won her school’s title by correctly spelling the word “hysterical.” But when asked what her favorite word was, she came up with an answer that seemed appropriate to the upcoming event.

Her favorite word is “excitement.”

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